No Free-Solo!

Black Mountain Overlook

I hope you had a great time over the Thanksgiving holiday. Cheryl and I got to drive with our Omaha kids to see our Tennessee kids. I think it was one of the best Thanksgiving days ever. No football. No turkey. No cooking! And a nice hike to Black Mountain Look-Out not far from Crossville, TN. My son, his wife and his four year old daughter are all getting into Bouldering! Well, actually top-rope climbing. We drove to the trail. Hiked to the look-out. Then spent a couple hours with a giant boulder!

People who are really experienced, really well equipped and in great shape, could scale a boulder like this no sweat. Not Tim. I was fortunate that Aaron had some climbing harnesses, rope, and a GRIGRI (a cam operated block device for top-roping). Aaron, Savannah and even Poppy all went the entire 50 feet up the face of a massive boulder. Tim went about 20 feet and had to turn around.

Thank You!

Top rope bouldering is a little like ministry. I can only get so far without some focused help to make it safe, productive and fun. I hope you realize that there’s absolutely nothing I can do to reach grad students and faculty members without a ministry that is anchored in prayer. The belay is that person on the bottom holding the rope and GRIGRI. It would just be insane to attempt building fellowships without your attentive contribution making it productive! Every prayer. Every donation. Every time you read, you’re helping me inch my way to accomplish InterVarsity’s mission in the university.

Thank you for letting me know your 2023 support plans.

If you have a quick minute, please swing by the link above and let me know your 2023 plans. I’ve been starting to hear back from supporters and it’s been a huge encouragement. Since I’m working on finding not only repeating gifts from 2022, but also new support that is yet to be given or pledged. Click here to see the details. If you haven’t given to my ministry budget or would like to send a year-end gift, you can use the link below to go to my donation page at InterVarsity.

Click here to be taken to my donation page at InterVarsity.

Have a blessed Advent Season!

More Chads, please!

Another great moment in my local ministry this fall. Last weekend was our last monthly brunch for my professional student group at Creighton. Chad was our guest faculty mentor this month. I first met Chad a number of years ago. Job transition stress drove me to seek help with debilitating shoulder pain. My daughter Phoebe had seen Chad earlier that year (ballet injury). It was an easy recommendation to pursue not only because Chad helped Phoebe get straightened out, but the ATI clinic Chad was in charge of is located less than football field from my house!

Please take a minute and let me know your support plans for 2023. Thanks!

I could tell Chad was a person of faith right away. It came up naturally and easily in conversations about why an unemployed pastor might be in need of therapy to fix frozen shoulder. I was also genuinely impressed with how I saw Chad interacting with other patients in his clinic. “At some point, I should tell this guy what is going on with my transition to IV staff and see if he’d be able to help me.”

The shoulder got fixed in about 2 months. I went on into GFM ministry with a group of PT and OT students at Creighton. I mentioned to Chad that I’d like to have him speak to my students – that is once we started meeting in person again. Saturday’s brunch you might say was 2 years in the making! The best part of the occasion was the way students latched onto EVERYTHING Chad said to them.

We usually spend a few minutes getting settled as we pass brunch dishes around and start downing coffee. These monthly gatherings have worked so well BECAUSE I’ve sought to bring mentors students can converse with (and not experts who lecture to them on Christianity and Medicine). Chad shared about his journey of getting through his DPT program and finding his first few jobs after graduation. He spoke pretty candidly about how his work took on more meaning as he connected it with his faith and “whole life calling.” He talked about how much pressure there was to “bill more, bill more, bill more” in the clinical jobs he had. He contrasted that with the freedom he now feels to work his practice with God’s purposes as the driver.

After we’ve let the guest mentor talk about their faith and practice connection, we just turn students loose on them in a Q/A free for all. No shortage of questions! You can just feel the energy in the room ratchet up. Last Saturday there were mostly first year PT students. They grilled Chad for 45 minutes and seemed to want more when our time ran out.

Help me find more Chads!

Not only did the students savor the open-ended dialogue, Chad also mentioned more than once how much HE needed interaction like this. “This does my faith good. This helps me revisit why my faith matters to my work. It blesses me to see Christian students and get focused time with them.” Chad would come back any time again to keep the conversation going because he could tell it was helping students AND it refreshed him in the process. I think that’s what you’d call a WIN-WIN. Or a slam dunk – pick your sports metaphor. Pray for me to keep this kind of dialogue happening monthly for these professional students. Pray for me to be effective in my networking. Pray for me as I keep taking initiative with students to help them connect and grow spiritually with each other. It’s been a fun season of work right here in my back yard.

As usual, my November and December are strategic months for firming up ministry partnership with friends and donors. If you haven’t yet had a chance to hop on that link above please let me know how you’d like to partner in the coming year. The link ABOVE takes you to my google response form. The link BELOW takes you directly to my donation page at InterVarsity. If you need a refresher about my need, be sure to back up and read my Financial Update Post from November 4th.

Thanks so much!

Our awesome daughter-in-law Haleigh being inducted into the honors society for her program at UNO.


Could everyone please take a seat so we can get started…

Just a few pics from random, recent happenings. I usually don’t do this to my readers, but I thought the pictures would be fun! Last week I spent four days in Colorado at a staff development event called Cultivate. Staff Managers with InterVarsity attend these meetings each fall where we get to connect with all of InterVarsity’s supervisory staff, across the country, no matter what ministry division they serve. The conference was in Denver, but we got to hang out an extra day for team-building in Boulder. I will say the architecture in Boulder was way more interesting than Denver!

2023 Ministry Partnership Form

The track I signed up for was called Chapter Turn Around. We spent our time considering how to help shrinking fellowships revitalize and get on a growth track. Several chapters in my area experienced significant decline during the covid years. Leaders in InterVarsity’s department of Learning and Talent have identified several key strategies including prayer, engaging volunteers, outreach and evangelism and developing student leaders. Sound familiar? It is really an exciting time to be in GFM ministry because there is a definite sense of post-pandemic thaw in the air. Pray for my staff team and I as we lead student and faculty groups into a new season.

If you haven’t had a chance to do so yet, please make your way over to my Ministry Partnership form and let me know how you’d like to be involved in the coming calendar year. Just scroll down to the previous post for the details. Thanks so much!

PS – the bike-seat art display was one of the more interesting features of the Renaissance Hotel in Denver. The incredible hotel I’m pictured at with the staff above is the Boulderado Hotel in Boulder! Incredible woodwork, tile, stained glass. And no bicycle seats!

Your Ministry Partnership

Wait, where have I seen this before, Tim?

Tis the season for Tim’s financial updates. I’ll give you the skinny here at the top of my post. The details down below are pretty similar to last year. So if you’re new to my team, please feel free to read to the end. If you know where this is headed already, save yourself the time and hop on the Ministry Partnership Form immediately below. I’ll keep the link to the form and my donation page handy in the rest of my 2022 posts. Thanks so much for your partnership!

This takes about 3 minutes

Once you’ve had a chance to think about your partnership with me, the following link will take you to a short form I’d like to have everyone fill out. I’ll be in touch with you based on your response. Here’s what the form looks like:

Donuts have replaced Pies!

Take that news however you want, but pie-charts are just not as cool as donut-charts. Everything that used to be a pie is now a donut (it’s about time, I say). Let me break it down for you. Hopefully this will make sense right from the start and you’ll forever be able to recognize Tim’s special Green, Gold, Blue donut-chart.

If you’re a Green…

Each year my ministry account gets reset on July 1st. The clock starts over! You are in the green part of the donut chart above most likely if you are a regular giver who contributes monthly. Greens are great because every month I get to see the results of your partnership with me. Thank you! Thank you for working me into your monthly giving budget. Most greens give not only to me, but several other causes as well. The consistency of your gifts helps me know I can keep doing this from year to year! Go Green!

If you’re a Gold…

Alert readers will realize that some Golds are just Greens as their gifts keep coming into the account. Fair enough. But you could also make the gold part of the donut by being an annual donor. Golds like to give in larger amounts – usually once a year. Many golds give around this time of year because they plan their giving around the calendar year-end. If you’re gold, it’s helpful to receive a reminder around now so you can transact your gift before the end of the year. Just hop on that link above and you’ll be taken to my donation page at InterVarsity. Thank you Gold!

Now, about that Blue…

Why does it seem like EVERY faith-ministry donut has a blue chunk? I long for the day when all I have is a Green-Gold donut to talk about in November. Not sure that will ever actually happen. The blue chunk represents new support dollars I need to find before the end of my fiscal year- June 2023. Two things are always happening that lead to the need for blue. My budget gets an upgrade each year that reflects cost of living adjustments and increases in ministry expenses (like rental cars). The other reality is that some supporters just can’t maintain their previous giving levels. Job loss, changes in giving ability or priorities among other factors mean that people sometimes have to cut back.

Can I help you with your Blue?

If you are a current donor and would like to increase your giving amount, that would be a terrific way to help me beat the blue! Consider a percentage bump of somewhere between 5 to 10 percent. If everyone in green/gold bumped their giving by even 5 percent, I’d be able to cover about half my funding gap.

If you haven’t been able to give to my budget, maybe you could start as a new donor in the coming calendar year. You can use that same link above to jump on my donation page and get started. I’ll also be working over the coming months to find new supporters. If you’re a Green/Gold and you know someone who might like to partner with InterVarsity by all means introduce me! I’d be happy to buy us all lunch and talk about it!

Thanks so much for your prayers and for your giving! I hope you’ll catch some terrific time with your family over Thanksgiving. If we haven’t caught up in a while, drop me an email. Let me know how I can encourage you and pray for you! is up!

Wow, this semester has just flown by! Bet you’ve told yourself something like that recently. But it’s so true. The other day I was looking back at my boilerroom post from Aug 13 – My Hope for Grad Students and it hit me “my vision for my local grad student group, is actually materializing.” Have you ever had an idea you’ve invested time and resources in actually lift off the ground as you watch it move down the runway? It’s so gratifying! Syntrek is like an experimental aircraft achieving sustained flight! Thanks so much for standing out in the cold near the airstrip with me this fall to see if this thing can fly.

Syntrek is a new strategy for one on one discipleship that explores the benefits of Spiritual Friendship. This fall I’ve intentionally networked all my contacts into pairs of students who are exploring themes of soul-care. If you have a minute, hop on the link and check out the blog. Its definitely under-construction at the moment, but we’re building the home-page around a series of 9 foundations. Blog posts will follow. I’m especially excited about the most recent article a member of my team wrote, Am I Safe? My dream is that over time we’ll grow a list of contributors and flesh out the web-site with tools and stories. If you find it helpful, feel free to subscribe. I’m currently using it with students by sending them a link when a new story is posted.

A Medical-Physics master’s student got to meet Megan at brunch yesterday!

The monthly brunch has also been a big hit this Fall. When you host events with food, it’s just the best when people actually show up! (And it’s just the worst when they don’t.) Beyond that it was so fun to overhear the chit-chat among students when they’re together, off-campus, with each other, and able to enjoy some decompressed company with each other. Megan Hyun is an incredible resource for students. She teaches at UNMC in radiology and oncology. She was in GCF at UW Madison during the years she worked on her PhD in Medical Physics. She’s also a leader in the local GFM Faculty Ministry we’ve been trying to build for the past 5 years. At the monthly brunches I’m trying to bring in guest faculty mentors like Megan to join us. Over brunch she encouraged the group around our theme of Spiritual Friendship as well as shared about how she connects her faith with her teaching and leadership. Students LOVED the chance to ask her questions. I could feel the chemistry she struck with these students. That’s GFM and Graduate Christian Fellowship at it’s best! Pray for us as we continue to grow this group. We’re currently a group of about 12 students. We have another brunch and a holiday party remaining on the calendar for 2022.

Thanks for your prayers! They’ve been impactful for my work these days. Thanks also for your giving to my work. My team and I have been looking at our finances as we head into the second quarter of our fiscal year. I’ll be writing about that in a future post, but it looks like I have some significant work to do before the calendar year wraps up.

Iowa Wind-Turbine Camping

The supervisor who dares make pizza for your teenagers!

There’s nothing quite like staying overnight at someone’s place. When you’re a staff director with InterVarsity who is trying not to kill your budget visiting 10 staff in 4 states, you get creative. At the risk of having your car stolen, you spend the night with your staff members near campus. When you visit a young family of 6 who lives on a farm in the middle of Iowa, there are other hazards to contend with. And you still have to be creative! I had a blast last week on my Iowa State visit.

One of the best culinary reviews I could ever receive for my pizza came from Levi, son of Chad Britten, bi-vocational GFM staff member and organic crop farmer. Chad told me Levi said to him, “Dad, that was the best pizza I think we have ever had.” Think of it. A teenager’s body is like a pizza super-highway with more traffic per year in pizza pies than at any other time in one’s life. Of course the average teen palate is not fully developed all the way up the nutritional pyramid, let’s say. But as regards pizza – I think this young man might just know what he’s talking about.

Fun pics around the Britten’s farm.

Staff families are a wonder to behold up close and personal. God’s faithfulness shines out from them. They are among the most resourceful, close-nit and intelligent eco-systems you’ll find anywhere on the planet. The Brittens farm. They have four very good looking, very above average kids active in everything from jazz to soccer. When you enter the foyer of their home, you’ll pass what looks like a church-pew (no kidding) PERFECT for sitting down and taking your muddy shoes off. OR, as the case was when I visited, perfect for about a dozen plastic Walmart shopping bags each with a dozen tomatoes in it. “You should take several with you, Tim, on your way home. We had to pick the last of them the other day. Cold weather is coming – we’ve got to bring them indoors. We’ll be eating these till Thanksgiving (even though we’re giving them away as fast as we can).”

I dared not displace a single person in this household from their bed. They live in a pretty small farm house with one bathroom. So I asked the Brittens something unthinkable to most of my readers. “Would it be ok if I camp in my tent somewhere out in your 5 acre yard?” I nestled in north of the house within ear-shot of one of those wind-turbine generators. Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. Not an abundance of sleep that night, but it was so fun to hang out at the Britten farm and make two of my best pizzas so their busy family could eat in shifts around soccer practice and a school concert. I enjoyed a stroll around the property seeing if I could find anything interesting to shoot as the sun went down. It was honestly one of the best staff visits I think I’ve ever had!

After spending the next day with Chad and Tom at ISU, I zoomed back home in the Black Pearl (our 2014 Honda Pilot). The next three days I spent down in Kansas visiting staff at KU in Lawrence and at K-State over in Manhattan. One highlight of my time in Manhattan was meeting a student in George Gardner’s ministry with Internationals. I’ve heard George talk about this guy for three years now and the unusual circumstances surrounding his arrival at K-State. In his home country Christians are the vast minority – and it was there that he actually had completed some biblical studies! As he wraps up his PhD in Chemistry, he explained to me how he longs to locate with his first job near a place where he can attend a seminary! He’d like to land a teaching post so he can at the same time complete a Theological Masters degree from a seminary! He’s interested in a top-shelf program as well – hopefully at a place like Trinity Evangelical Divinity or Dallas Theological Seminary.

Pray for George and this incredible PhD student. He’ll be defending his dissertation (on some variation of organic compound synthesis related to cancer treatment). He’s been such a terrific part of the International fellowship George works with. He and another student from his country are a source of vibrant witness in their department. Pray for God to bless George’s leadership. George and Sharon are wonderful models of servant evangelism. The event in the pics above is Brunch and Bible every Saturday morning. Sharon, George’s wife, recently retired from a career in food service. She does in fact cook many of the worlds greatest dishes (including the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever eaten). My cinnamon roll palate IS quite refined I’ll have you know.

Thanks for your prayers! Please keep my local GSCF group in mind. We have our second brunch gathering of the semester tomorrow at my home!

One very fun…

… part of my job is getting OUT of town, away from my desk, my library and my office. The staff I serve and the supporters who keep me in business are scattered all over my territory: Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa. Last week I was in St. Louis Sunday through Thursday, visiting George (staff member who leads our faculty ministry), going with George to his Wash-U faculty bible study, having dinner with George and his wife Barbara, meeting Brian (a possible GFM staff candidate), getting my rental car stolen the second night I stayed at George’s, talking with police about the car, talking with InterVarsity legal about the car, talking with Enterprise about the car, getting a new rental car, hanging out with George at his Lindenwood University group, then finished the day at Pi Pizza with Josh, another GFM staff who works with Wash-U grad students. And that was the first two days!

I switched overnight hosts on the third night and that’s when my trip when from really good (in spite of the car theft) to very fun! The campus visits and time with staff are of course the heartbeat of my job. But I have to say that even though this job involves travel and sleeping in a lot of different beds, it can be a very fun job when it comes to connecting with supporters! I’ll spare you the names just to keep this precious family a little more anonymous, but my overnight hosts Tuesday and Wednesday were just a blast to be with.

When I first started rounding up ministry partners (donors) four years ago, I reconnected with a lot of alumni from my days of undergrad staff Illinois (1987-2006). Almost everyone in this group was a student leader at some point way back then. And just about all of them have been growing families during the Perrys Omaha years. My best guess as to how many current supporters were former students of mine would be about 30 percent! This family is just one of dozens who make up that number. And I had the best time hanging out with them.

The mom (if you can find her in these pics) was a student leader, served on exec two years, married a classmate, went on to get more degrees after her undergrad days, settled in the St. Louis area. Oh, and has four kids! The ones in these pictures. From the minute I walked into their home after a long day of visits on campus I felt like I was going to fit in. Shortly after meeting the daughters in their matching pajamas, out came Ace, Jay and Bo. Ace, Jay and Bo are rats. “Fancy rats.” Very cute and cuddly. Actually soft and fun to hold. They would actually give you tiny little rat-kisses if you held them close to your face. The second night I was there, more animals came out of their cages. A python. And a gecko. And the skull of a deer (kinda doesn’t count, but that was the extent of the animal kingdom).

The second night there, I arrived in time to make some cookies with the girls. I travel ever-ready to just bust out ingredients for peanut butter monster cookies. They did not disappoint! It’s the only cookie I can make. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve had them. I may have even made them with your children!

Other fun moments. Getting trash-talked by one of the kids “you’re just an old-guy, you’ll never beat us at Spot-It.” The kid tells the truth. I got totally humiliated every game. They never tired of laughing at my pathetic stack of cards (compared to theirs). The family just happened to have a spinal decompression table in the basement. It is a kind of torture device like “the rack” but not quite so dangerous. And I was able to join my hosts for a delicious dinner and more conversation about churches, neighbors, jobs, schools, gymnastics, ballet, and martial arts.

If you are one of these people who, like this family, are keeping me in business through your prayers and support, please know that I actually delight in having you on my team! Not only do I need you. I like you. And I like hanging out with you from time to time. It refreshes my connection. It helps me see how your family is growing and how God is using you in your community.

Wait, did you say your car was stolen on this trip?

Yes. I’m grateful not too many of my possessions were in it. I’m grateful it wasn’t stolen from me while I was out using it. But, yes, my little white Hyundai Tucson rental was take from me. Even though all my cookie making supplies I’d brought were also stolen, I managed to not miss a single appointment on the entire trip. I even managed to make a stop on the way there and the way back to connect with faculty members at Mizzou, in Columbia (right on my way). It was a very full trip. It was a first in my 30 plus years of ministry to have a vehicle stolen or even broken into.

Hey who took my Hyundai?

Prayers welcome for the coming week:

I have another big trip planned starting tomorrow. Here’s the play by play:

  • Leave Omaha tomorrow morning.
  • Catch up with a niece who also supports me and stay over night w her in Chicago-land.
  • Attend a friend’s memorial service Monday morning in Warrenville, IL.
  • Visit another alumn (former student leader) in the South Chicago suburbs.
  • Travel to Iowa City.
  • Half a day at the University of Iowa and catch up with my GFM staff member there.
  • Travel to Ames, campus visit at ISU
  • Camping in one of my staff member’s back-yard Tuesday night.
  • Making pizza for this staff family after pitching my RIE 3-man Mountaineer.
  • Meet up with Christian faculty members Wednesday morning at ISU.
  • ISU Faculty and Staff noon monthly meeting.
  • Stop through Dodge City to visit with alumni and have dinner.
  • Overnight in my own bed in Omaha!
  • Thursday – my staff member in Lawrence, KS.
  • Friday- my faculty ministry leader at K-State in Manhattan.
  • Saturday- my international student ministry leader at K-State.
  • Saturday afternoon about 4 pm, a sunset bike-ride on the Keystone trail in Omaha!

Well, maybe it will be nice enough for a bike ride. Maybe not. At any rate, I’d value lots of your prayers in getting me (and my vehicle) all the way through this week! More on my time in St. Louis in a future post. More about Syntrek.Blog as well! Thanks so much for your partnership!

Syntrek: off and running!

Great news to pass along here at the end of your weekend! Yesterday was our first, Second-Saturday Creighton GCF Brunch! Nine students showed up and enjoyed my best brunch menu – Clone of the Cinnabon, Egg Cheese souffle, Fruit and Coffee. The best part is that we officially kicked off Syntrek. More on that later, but you can download the Official Syntrek Cheat Sheet at the following link.

This is the strongest September we’ve experienced for years! Please pray for Creighton’s Graduate Christian Fellowship. There are just a couple of returning students – the rest are first-year students. This year’s new students are a mix of PT, OT and one international who is a Medical Physics masters student. Almost all those in the photo have a Syntrek partner! Pray for me as I keep networking with new students. Pray for students to carve out time to be together (see the weekly meet-up cheat sheet that outlines how to have a syntrek meet-up). Pray also as my Area Staff Team and I launch a new blog that will provide resources for these grad-student discipleship pairs. More to come on that in future posts.

Have a terrific week!

This might be working!

Mara and Emma – meeting up with me last weekend to find their corner and get started!

In my previous post I vlogged about building grad student fellowships from the ground up, one pair of students at a time. After following up 16 students from orientation there are six students eager to explore Spiritual Friendship in tiny groups of two! The challenge is to find a corner and meet every week. A corner, according to spiritual formation author Mindy Caliguire, is a space and a place where the quiet business of connecting with another can take place.

Here’s me and my first pair, Emma and Mara. I had coffee with each of them individually – getting to know their story, sounding them out on the idea of starting a Spiritual Friendship. Once I had a sense for their personalities, I prayed and match-made my way through my contacts. This was the launch – a 7 minute zoom call to introduce them to each other, cover a few guidelines and have them find their corner!

Over the next month, I’m hoping to launch a total of four Spiritual Friendship pairs at Creighton. I’ll be checking in with them, sending them helpful ideas for their time together each week. 30 minutes to land, listen and encourage one another. We’ll see how this goes. Stay tuned for a new blog my team and I are developing to resource students jumping into this. Pray for me to finish some last minute match-making and for my team as we wade through some terrific soul-care resources on Spiritual Friendship. If you’ve heard of this idea before and know of a great book or website, email me below and give me the name of it! Our team will tear through it and see what can be curated for our students.

Is this thing just a Creighton thing? I seriously hope not. I’m piloting it here, but there are at least 4 other schools in my area with GFM staff interested in developing the model. We’ll keep you posted! Thanks for praying.

My hope for Grad and Professional Students this Fall.

Coming to you this time via video. The link under the image above will take you there at YouTube. Things on campuses are starting up for me and the rest of my GFM colleagues. I would love it if you could take 11 minutes to watch this update and pray for us on campus during the early weeks of the new term.

I am working on following up a number of contacts from the info table I talked about in the video. My goal this fall is to connect with new and returning students and develop a network of Spiritual Friendship pairs and triads. Getting students connected this way helps build a sense of investment in each other and teamwork in their spiritual lives. My plan is to also host a Second Saturday brunch at my place where these pairs and triads can meet up.

Thanks for watching and thanks for your prayers. I bet I’ll be back later this fall with some encouraging stories!